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Mayor responds to physician concerns over ferrochrome production facility

Project assessment 'unquestionably includes understanding any potential harm to our environment, our health and our well-being, and the efforts to either mitigate, minimize or eliminate any identified risks,' the mayor writes
20190507-Noront announcement-DT-01
Sault Mayor Christian Provenzano addresses an audience gathered at the Civic Centre after it was announced Noront Resources chose the Sault to be the site of its new ferrochrome processing facility, May 7, 2019. Darren Taylor/SooToday

The following letter was submitted to SooToday by Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano. It is in response to health and environmental concerns outlined in a letter from area physicians regarding the proposed ferrochrome production facility in Sault Ste. Marie. Said letter indicated that physicians may feel compelled to leave the Sault should the facility come to fruition.

Doctor Robert Suppes
c/o Sault Area Hospital
750 Great Northern Road
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6B 0A8

Dr. Suppes:

I have your email of September 24th, 2019, covering the public letter sent on behalf of the identified physicians.

I appreciate and respect the concerns that you have raised about a ferrochrome production facility (FPF) being constructed in Sault Ste. Marie. In general, I assure you that I share them. However, I note you advised that whatever assurance Noront is able to give, the project should not proceed. While you may be able to take such a categorical position before receiving information that relates to this specific project, I cannot. I do not think it would be responsible for me, in my role, to take the same approach.

I believe the community at large would expect the City to thoroughly assess the project on its own independent merits. This unquestionably includes understanding any potential harm to our environment, our health and our well-being, and the efforts to either mitigate, minimize or eliminate any identified risks. If, after we have engaged in this assessment, the City is not comfortable with the project, we will not support the construction of the facility in our community.

In that respect, it is important to recognize that we are in the very early stages of a lengthy and rigorous process and that while there are people in our community who oppose the project, there are many who support it. I think it is important that we maintain a respectful dialogue and that we make our best efforts to share accurate and relevant information. If we do so, I have substantial confidence that our community will ultimately make an educated decision that is in its best interest.

I note that, prior to the release of your letter, I wrote to Dr. Chow and offered to connect your physician group with the Noront executive. They are open to meeting with your group to discuss the project and the attendant processes. Dr. Chow did not take me up on that offer but it stands. I will be happy to facilitate that meeting at a convenient time and welcome you to let me know if you or any of your colleagues are interested.

In the meantime, I confirm that Noront will be hosting an introductory open house on October 23rd, 2019. I invite you, your colleagues and any member of our community that has questions or concerns to attend. The details will be publicized once they are finalized. Once I have them, I will pass them along to you to be sure you have them also.

If you or any of the physicians identified on the letter would like to discuss this matter further, we can arrange a time to speak or meet. I will make myself available to any or all of you.

Sincerely,
Christian C. Provenzano, B.A., LL.B., LL.M